Reclining in order to talk to a therapist is a powerful experience, says Nathan Kravis. But the reasons remain unclear

In 1991, the New York City subway was plastered with enormous couch posters, part of an ad campaign by the Archdiocese of New York. They bore the caption (some in English, others in Spanish), “Some people find the same peace of mind sitting in a pew. Come home at Easter. The Catholic Archdiocese of New York.”

As a young psychiatrist and candidate in psychoanalytic training in Manhattan, I was taking the subway four times a week to my analyst’s office to lie on just such a couch. These ads were obviously not aimed at psychoanalytic trainees like me. But who, I wondered, comprised the target audience? And why was the Church so confident that subway riders would easily decode the image, and understand the implied link between couch and pew?

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